After turning back the clock on one of sports' great rivalries, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox will decide their first three-game series of the season at Fenway Park on Thursday night.
"Typical Red Sox-Yankees game -- four hours long, a couple of bench-clearing brawls, so we're right on track here," Red Sox shortstop Brock Holt said after suffering a gash on his leg on a slide by New York's Tyler Austin in the third inning of the Yankees' 10-7 victory that evened the series Wednesday night.
Holt was clipped by Austin's spike and didn't like it, the benches and bullpens emptying with no real fracas. Then, in the seventh inning, Boston pitcher Joe Kelly came inside on Austin and then drilled him with the next pitch. Austin slammed his bat down and charged the mound, the resulting brawl seeing Austin landing a roundhouse right over the pile and to the head of Boston coach Carlos Febles.
After the game, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he didn't think his player did anything "even remotely dirty" on the slide at second base.
Boone and Red Sox manager Alex Cora were both part of this rivalry as players but have now experienced the craziness as managers.
"It's fun -- we're playing hard, they're playing hard. It happens," said Holt.
The question now is: Will it happen again when New York's Sonny Gray faces Boston's Rick Porcello in the series finale. The Red Sox think it might, that the Yankees may retaliate for Austin, who didn't think he did anything wrong on the slide.
Austin is facing suspension but is expected to be active for Thursday night. Even if he's not, Aaron Hicks finished his Triple-A rehab assignment and headed for Boston after his game Wednesday night.
"I didn't know what to expect," Boone said of the retaliation. "I don't think (the Red Sox) should have, you know? I thought it was a hard slide into second, nothing remotely dirty about it, and -- so, you know -- to take matters into your own hands and go hit one of our guys, for that I thought was an overreaction. ... I didn't think it was right.
"Because (Austin) came off the base, there could have been an issue from a replay standpoint based on the rules, but no, no. You know, sometimes in your slide it carries you, and I don't know if there's any carry-over from all the (Manny) Machado stuff (hurting Dustin Pedroia) last year, and they're going to handle things a certain way now. I mean that was pretty innocuous if you ask me."
Kelly said his pitches got away on a cold night.
The Red Sox won 14-1 on Tuesday before New York came back and ended Boston's nine-game winning streak Wednesday. Now, Gray, who doesn't have a great history either as a Yankee or against the Red Sox, tries to pitch his team (6-6) back over the .500 mark.
Gray, 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA this season, is just 5-8, including the postseason, as a Yankee. He is 1-4 with a 4.93 ERA in six career starts against the Red Sox -- 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in three starts at Fenway.
Porcello, looking to rebound from a bad season that followed his 2016 Cy Young Award campaign, is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA. He is 8-8 with a 3.27 ERA in 18 career games against the Yankees.
Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner, who had a big game atop the lineup Wednesday, has had the most success against Porcello, going 12-for-34 (.304) with two homers lifetime against the right-hander. Didi Gregorius, outstanding in the field and adding a pair of sacrifice flies Wednesday, is 5-for-23 (.217) but has two homers, while Aaron Judge is 1-for-10 (.100) and Gary Sanchez 1-for-8 (.125) against Porcello.
Sanchez broke out of his slump with two homers and a double Wednesday.
For the Red Sox, Andrew Benintendi, who had Wednesday night off, is 4-for-6 (.667) with a homer and J.D. Martinez is 3-for-7 (.429) with a homer against Gray. Mitch Moreland is just 6-for-25 (.240) against Gray but four of the hits are home runs. Mookie Betts is just 2-for-14 (.133), Holt 1-for-10 and Jackie Bradley Jr. 2-for-9 (.222) off Gray.